KWA wants water-level at 110.5 m

The continuing rains in the catchment areas of the Peppara dam as well as across the district over the last couple of weeks has shored up the water level in the dam’s reservoir, and in turn, prompted the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) to revive its proposal before the government to increase the dam’s holding capacity.

According to KWA officials, the water level as on Sunday stood at 102 metres (above mean sea level – MSL), with the maximum storage level for the dam being 104.5m. If the rain continues in the same vein, the levels could touch the maximum level in less than two weeks, they believe, adding that this meant good news for the city for which the dam is the sole source for drinking water.

The impact of the rains on the dam can be judged from the fact that the water level had plummeted to an all-time low of 91m in the first week of June. The dead storage level in the dam, at which water cannot be drawn, is 86.5m. According to the KWA’s calculations, the dam at full capacity can cater to the city’s requirements for about three months. However, this is calculated on the assumption that the holding capacity has not been reduced drastically from deposit of silt.

With the recent drought mounting pressure on the KWA as the water levels in the dam went down, the utility has decided to revive its long-standing proposal to the State government to raise the storage capacity to 110.5m, stressing the importance of saving the water that flows into the dam this monsoon.

The proposal had seen some movement last year, but with the then Forest Minister K.B. Ganesh Kumar refusing to buy the 110.5m-proposal and instead, suggesting that the storage be limited to 107.5m. This, he had pointed out, would result in the consequent submergence of forestland to 107 hectares and a loss of about 42,000 trees.

If the dam’s level was raised to 110.5m, 267 hectares of forestland would be submerged and over one lakh trees would be submerged, the Minister had said. However, nothing much moved after that with the conditions stipulated by the Forests and Environment department, if the KWA had to go ahead with the raise, being ‘too stringent,’ officials said.

The KWA, according to officials, is now planning to approach the Chief Minister, who is handling the Forests and Environment portfolio now, to renew its request and press for an increase in storage capacity without much delay so that the city would not have to go through tough times during summers.